Accessorizing with Tony Horton

Recently, Jeff Katz revealed on the blog how he stores the 1984 Fun Foods pin set by using pocket pages designed for stamps.  In a vain attempt to keep up with the “Katzes,” I completed my set and used tobacco card pocket pages to store mine. The pin subject reminded me that I have around 20 pins from the 1969 MLBPA pin (photo button) set.

This set consists of 60 pins measuring approximately 7/8”. There are 30 players for each league, with the American League featuring red borders and the National League blue.  The photos are all “floating heads” in black and white without cap emblems. The unnumbered pins were distributed in vending machines for 10 cents apiece.

Included in the set are most of the greats and near greats of the era. The set does not include players from the four expansion teams that began play in 1969-alas, no Seattle Pilots!  However, there is a George Brunet on the Angels which sort of counts.

Printed along the bottom is the following: “1969 MLBPA MFG. R.R. Winona, MINN.”  The reason I point this out is that a similar version of the pins was released by persons unknown in 1983.

The unauthorized pins are easy to spot. 

  • The photo and the pin themselves are smaller.
  • Players from either league show up in blue or red.
  • The player’s name appears above the photo and team name below-just the opposite of the originals.
  • Some hats include team logos whereas no 1969 hats do.
  • There is no manufacturer printed on the pin. “1969 MLBPA USA” does appear, but the issue was not sanctioned by the union.

The make up of the “bootleg” set is quite different.  Only 13 of the 60 players from the original issue show up in this 36-pin set.  The remaining 23 pins are all time greats including Babe Ruth, Ted Williams, Joe DiMaggio, and Satchel Paige. I found no reference to how the pins were distributed, but the gumball machine method seems logical.

A complete set of the originals in excellent condition is quite pricey.  On the other hand, you can pick up off grade singles at a reasonable price.

Since this set is not exactly aesthetically pleasing, I’m hoping this scintillating post doesn’t spur Jeff Katz to put the set together.  I don’t want to become mired in a “cold war” pin race. Meanwhile, I will make a fashion statement by pinning Tony Horton to the lapel of my leisure suit.

Author: Tim Jenkins

Sports memorablilia collector with Seattle teams emphasis. HOF autographs, baseball cards and much more. Teacher for over 30 years. Attended games at 35 different MLB parks.

4 thoughts on “Accessorizing with Tony Horton”

  1. Very interesting! Thanks for the quick keys to identifying 1969 vs 1983. There is a complete graded set on ebay for a whopping $12,000. The Clemente in it (which is in 2nd photo) has team name on bottom, thus is a 1983, yet PSA has graded it a 9 and authenticated it as 1969. Wow! Probstein is the seller. Wasn’t Probstein one of the sellers implicated in the current re-grading scandal? Anyway…great post and great set!


    1. Nice catch. There’s also a Pirates logo on the hat! Even the blue seems darker than the other pins.

      I thought it was PWCC that was the big seller implicated in the scandal. My guess is that Probstein is selling a collection someone else put together and that person didn’t realize it because they got a good deal on the pin (or maybe it’s a bad deal) or maybe it came in a lot. The set on PSA is listed with a Clemente PSA 9 (the only one, and the highest graded one). Probstein does have a PSA 8 Clemente pin up for $875.

      The authenticators aren’t perfect. I once saw a July 1987 Beckett authenticated as a genuine Willie Mays autograph. That’s sort of true. There is an autograph on the front of the Beckett that is almost certainly a Mays autograph – however, it’s printed on every single copy of the July 1987 Beckett, not actually signed by Mays. There was another time where I saw a 1951 Topps Red Back Tommy Holmes mislabeled. There are two variations, Boston and Hartford. It was labeled as one but was clearly the other.

      Liked by 1 person

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